Soul Serenade: The Coasters, “Down In Mexico”

 
What record do you think of when someone mentions the Coasters? Most people would have said “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown,” or “Poison Ivy.” That was before Quentin Tarantino entered the picture with his 2007 film Death Proof. The ...

Soul Serenade: Gary U.S. Bonds, “New Orleans”

Those of you who have been following along may have  noticed that there was no Soul Serenade column last week. It was the first time that the column didn’t appear in its weekly spot for nearly five years, but there was a very ...

Soul Serenade: The Orlons, “South Street”

This week I am seeking an answer to the age-old question — where do all the hippies meet? If you’re from Philadelphia, please don’t shout out the answer.

Audrey and the Teenettes got together in Philly in the late ’50s. The original ...

Soul Serenade: Joe Tex, “Show Me”

Do you know who Joseph Arrington, Jr. was? If I told you where he was from you would figure it out quickly. He was born in Rogers, Texas in 1935 and moved to Baytown with his mother when his parents divorced. In ...

Soul Serenade: Don Covay, “Mercy, Mercy”

Don Covay left us recently. He left behind a splendid resume that reflected his work as a singer and songwriter. Covay never allowed himself to be pigeonholed into one genre or another. His music reached out to fans of soul, R&B, and ...

Soul Serenade: Garland Green, “Jealous Kind Of Fella”

Popular songs are a funny thing. What is it that makes some hit songs live on forever, while others are forgotten with the passage of time? Is there something in the melody or lyrics that give a song its staying power? I ...

Soul Serenade: The Valentinos, “It’s All Over Now”

I read an interview with Bobby Womack a few years ago in which he said that when he first heard that the Rolling Stones planned to record “It’s All Over Now,” he was not happy. He asked his manager to tell Mick ...

Soul Serenade: Isaac Hayes, “Walk On By”

As 1968 began, things at Stax Records were uncertain to say the least. The label had been born in 1957 as Satellite Records, the brainchild of founder Jim Stewart, who was joined a year later by his sister Estelle Axton. Initially Satellite ...

Soul Serenade: The Temptations, “My Girl” at 50

I saw the classic Temptations lineup at a local college in 1967. My date was a pretty girl named Mary who took the train all the way from Long Island to New Jersey in order to go to the show with me. ...

Soul Serenade: The Shirelles, “Tonight’s The Night”

There’s a lot of talk about girl groups, and rightfully so. Girl groups made some great music in the ’60s. But if you ever try to journey back to where it all started it’s inevitable that you will run into the Shirelles ...

Soul Serenade: The Contours, “First I Look At The Purse”

Statistics tell us that the economy is improving. The stock market is reaching new highs, lots of jobs have been created, and the unemployment rate is down. Here in Rhode Island however, it’s hard to see things getting better. The state has ...

Soul Serenade: The Chiffons, “One Fine Day”

There are a variety of ways that songs and artists move to the top of the list (yes, there is a list) of potential features for Soul Serenade. Sometimes it can be a simple as hearing the great opening riff of a ...

Soul Serenade: Freddie Scott, “Are You Lonely For Me”

For my last column from New Jersey last week I chose to recognize my time there by featuring Madeline Bell, who is a native of Newark, the state’s largest city. Now that I’m back in Rhode Island it only seems fair to ...

Soul Serenade: Jerry Butler, “A Brand New Me”

I’m going to Philadelphia tomorrow. It’s exciting for me, so exciting that I’m writing the column a day early so that I can go. I haven’t been there since I moved to Rhode Island, which is closing in on four years ago ...

Soul Serenade: Ohio Players, “Love Rollercoaster”

I’ve never been much of a roller coaster fan. To be honest, even though I know that a lot of people love the ride, I don’t get the appeal. The same goes for any of those rides that are fast and high. ...

Soul Serenade: George McCrae, “Rock Your Baby”

Henry Stone died recently. If you don’t know who Henry Stone was, suffice to say that he was one of the last of the great record men. In some quarters he was known as the King of Independent Records. In the ’70s ...

Soul Serenade: Shorty Long, “Function At The Junction”

He was born Frederick Earl Long in 1940, but given the fact that he rose to just a little bit over five feet tall, the “Shorty” moniker seemed to fit perfectly. Although he got his musical education from legends like Alvin “Shine” ...

Soul Serenade: Bettye Swann, “Make Me Yours”

As the noted orator Snoop Doog once said “with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” Money must have been on Betty Jean Champion’s mind when she was a kid in Arcadia, Louisiana and it took on a ...

Soul Serenade: Patti Drew, “Tell Him”

I’ve been writing the Soul Serenade column for over four years now. There have been well over 200 installments during that time. The column doesn’t have a vast readership, it’s not likely to ever go viral, but there is a solid core ...